A Middle East Peace Plan Built on Un-American Principles | Defense One


The Trump administration hasn’t actually released its Middle East peace plan. It’s so close-held that the Palestinians who are to be its object have not been invited into discussions of the subject. But the whispers of those who have been consulted suggest the possibility that the sequencing will commence with economic incentives for Palestinian acceptance of eventual subjugation into the state of Israel—a “one-state solution,” in diplomatic parlance.

If that is White House senior adviser Jared Kushner’s approach, it would represent a reversal of the administration policy, which has until now been focused on imposing economic hardship on Palestinians in order to compel their acceptance of what Kushner terms “facts.”

The secrecy in which the Kushner plan is shrouded has not prevented the president from publicizing the plan as the “deal of the century.”

Source: A Middle East Peace Plan Built on Un-American Principles – Defense One

Census’ Cybersecurity Plan is Full of Holes, Watchdog Says | Nextgov


Federal auditors uncovered numerous holes in the Census Bureau’s plans for combating the significant cybersecurity and tech threats facing the 2020 count, which could leave officials struggling to respond to disruptions.

The Government Accountability Office found the bureau’s plan for mitigating cybersecurity risks during the 2020 Census left out many of the defensive tactics officials previously said they would use to defend IT systems from attack.

For example, the initial plan included no information about how the bureau would gather threat intelligence from other federal agencies, something officials had long said they planned to do, auditors said in a report published Friday.

Source: Census’ Cybersecurity Plan is Full of Holes, Watchdog Says – Nextgov

Congress launches Big Tech antitrust probe


The federal government may be warming up its antitrust enforcement machine and pointing it at Big Tech.

On Monday, the House Judiciary Committee announced a sweeping antitrust probe of unspecified technology companies . In a statement, it promised “a top-to-bottom review of the market power held by giant tech platforms,” which would be the first such Congress has ever undertaken.

Source: Congress launches Big Tech antitrust probe

House committee pushes for a window into cyberwar | FCW


Members of the House Armed Services Committee want Congress to be kept in the loop when the executive branch launches offensive operations in cyberspace.

In a legislative draft of the upcoming National Defense Authorization Act, the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Intelligence and Emerging Threat Capabilities is seeking to amend Title 10 of U.S. law to require that the Secretary of Defense notify congressional defense committees whenever the department engages in sensitive military cyber operations.

The draft bill would also include additional parameters that further define what offensive or defensive operations constitute a “sensitive military cyber operation.”

Source: House committee pushes for a window into cyberwar — FCW

Deepfakes, social media, and the 2020 election


What happens when you mix easy access to increasingly sophisticated technology for producing deepfake videos, a high-stakes election, and a social media ecosystem built on maximizing views, likes, and shares? America is about to find out.

As I explained in a TechTank post in February 2019, “deepfakes are videos that have been constructed to make a person appear to say or do something that they never said or did.” With continued advances in artificial intelligence-based techniques for performing detailed frame-by-frame editing, it’s easier than ever to create highly convincing depictions of events that never actually occurred.

But you don’t need AI to produce an altered video. The late May release of a video modified to make House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appear to slur her words underscored how even rudimentary digital content manipulations can be highly effective at creating an alternate reality.

Source: Deepfakes, social media, and the 2020 election

June 4, 1989: A personal recollection


On Saturday, June 3, 1989, I was at my State Department desk, where I worked as acting director of the Office of Chinese and Mongolian Affairs.

There had been no Saturdays off since demonstrations in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square began in the wake of the April 15 death of the pro-reform former General Secretary of the Communist Party Hu Yaobang.

I was preparing to leave the office near mid-day Washington-time when the first reports came in—shortly before it struck June 4 in Beijing—that units of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) were heading towards Tiananmen.

Source: June 4, 1989: A personal recollection

Beijing After Tiananmen: Part 1 | The Diplomat


The massacre of unarmed civilians that happened in the early morning hours of June 4, 1989 in Beijing did not end the story of suffering, sorrow, and trauma for the city’s residents that year.

Indeed, the murders in Beijing – some reliable sources say of up to 10,000 people, as quoted by the British ambassador to China at that time, Sir Alan Donald – were the dramatic catalyst for a lengthy period of quiet but highly effective terror under martial law that lasted for the rest of the year.

The story of those six months is largely untold, for three reasons.

Source: Beijing After Tiananmen: Part 1 | The Diplomat

The west is complicit in the 30-year cover-up of Tiananmen | The Guardian


The events of 4 June 1989, when the Chinese government deployed the full might of its military to purge Tiananmen Square of students who’d been peacefully protesting there, have become known in China as the “June Fourth Incident.”

Thirty years on, it is still thought of as an “incident,” a one-off event. In fact, it was part of a political movement in which every major Chinese city participated.

To this day, a complete definition of 4 June 1989 as a historical event has not been realized, because defining a historical event requires not only the full facts but also multiple perspectives. And in its aftermath, the Chinese government intensified its oversight of free expression in China, deploying various tactics to suppress, arrest, detain and imprison anyone who spoke about “June Fourth”.

Source: The west is complicit in the 30-year cover-up of Tiananmen | Ai Weiwei | Opinion | The Guardian

Will Trump’s Mexico Tariffs Finally Force Congress to Rein In His Bullying?


President Donald Trump has repeatedly shown that when it comes to foreign policy, he prefers bullying over supporting widely held norms.

He has embraced dictators while trashing American allies and alliances. He ignores or undermines international institutions that the United States helped to create.

And on the trade front, he has slapped tariffs on close allies and partners while invoking vague claims about national security.

The latest move came last week, when Trump again threatened trade sanctions against Mexico, a major trading partner, over a humanitarian crisis at the southern border that he helped create. The families escaping violence and poverty in Central America that are crossing the border with Mexico are not a national security threat. But they do look more and more like props in Trump’s reelection campaign.

A few weeks ago, when Trump proposed shutting down the southern border entirely, it seemed that cooler heads had prevailed.

He backed off and said that he would give Mexico a year to stop the migrant flow and then consider imposing 25 percent tariffs on the country’s automobile exports if the government failed to do so.

But Trump doesn’t know how to keep his word, and something apparently set him off last week.

Source: Will Trump’s Mexico Tariffs Finally Force Congress to Rein In His Bullying?

Walmart expands education program for workers ahead of controversial shareholders meeting | Reuters


Walmart Inc said on Tuesday it is seeking to attract high school students by offering them a low-cost path to a college degree and will expand an education program it started a year ago – in a new bid to draw workers in a tight labor market.

Walmart’s announcement comes a day before its annual shareholders meeting in Bentonville, Arkansas, which will be attended by Senator and Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders.

Source: Walmart expands education program for workers ahead of controversial shareholders meeting – Reuters